What is rising action?

You know how a story gets exciting and you want to keep turning pages to see what happens? Simply put, the events in a story plot that build that excitement are the "rising action".

Rising Action Definition for Kids:

Rising action is how the events in a story build excitement until they reach their most exciting point (called the "climax"). After the rising action and climax, the story starts slowing down and wrapping up (called "falling action"), bringing the story to an end.

Why Does a Story Need Rising Action?

In a story, the main character wants something. The plot is all about why the main character can't get what he wants right away and how he keeps trying to get it. Rising action is when the story builds as the character keeps facing obstacles and trying to overcome them.

Rising action is the in the story because stories need some sort of conflict to be interesting. The main character can’t just get what he wants right away because the story would be boring, and very short.

Rising Action works along with Climax and Falling Action to make a story flow. This story structure pyramid is how an author gets readers caught up in the events of the story, keeps readers interested, and then helps them emotionally feel like the story came to an end.


Rising Action Definition in Images

What is Rising Action- Definition in Story Pyramid Picture

Freytag's Pyramid Image

This image simplifies Freytag's pyramid for kids, showing children how dramatic stories are often structured. This simplified version of the story structure pyramid is based on our Super Easy Storytelling Formula.

Free Printable Story Pyramid Worksheet Free Printable Rising Action Poster

Identify Rising Action Worksheet

Rising action worksheet

To help students understand what rising action is and how it affects the structure of a story, try this free printable worksheet on Identifying rising action in a story.

Rising action definition- Example

Let’s use this basic story formula and a really simplified story to show what rising action is:

A lizard + wants to be a rockstar + but he can’t sing

{Beginning of the story, a.k.a The Exposition. Introduce main character and set up the story} A tall, florescent green lizard stood admiring his shimmering form in the mirror. Running his bulbous fingers through is wild, blue hair he popped himself into a dance pose he was sure would get the audience screaming. He was born to be a rockstar-- with one teensy problem. The only thing making people scream was his awful singing. When Lizard (he pronounced is Liz- arggh, kind of like a pirate), opened his mouth, the noise that came out had people screaming for him to stop. If he was going to be the rockstar he knew he was born to be, he needed to learn how to sing.

{Middle of the story, a.k.a Rising Action. Add conflict and action.} One day while he was browsing through cds at the record store, Lizarggh overheard some rockers talking about a secret grotto at the top of Rockopolis Mountain. Legend says that anyone who drinks from the dark pool in the grotto instantly gains a voice as smooth and deep as its waters. Lizzarggh knew what he had to do. He laced up his combat boots, slipped a power bar in his satchel, and started climbing.

{Add a twist of more Rising Action until the Climax} After hours of hacking his way through brush and struggling over boulders, the tip of the grotto peaked above the next hill. With a rush of renewed energy, Lizzargh took off, bounding over rocks until they felt like they were shaking loose under the impact of his feet. Wow, he must have some strong feet, he thought, because they were really starting to tumble now. Oh no! He realized Rockopolis Mountain was really rocking! It was an earthquake shaking loose the stones. He leaped and grabbed for a tree branch, and swung his legs up to capture the bough. He popped his suction cup fingers into action keeping a death grip on the branch.

{Add Falling Action} Finally, the leaves stopped shaking, the ground settled, and Lizzargh lowered one toe, gently nudging the rock beneath him to check for stability. No rocking. No rolling. He straightened is leather jacket, shook his blue hair back into a stylishly wild disarray, and sprinted up the mountain like a pack of biker lizards were after him.

{The End, a.k.a Denouement. Wrap up the action and create resolution} He should have been wary. He should have been careful. But blame it on the rocking and rolling of that mountain, Lizzargh was too amped to hold back. He dove in and gulped down the silky water. He rose above the surface, flung his sodden locks out of his eyes, and wailed his highest note. It was awesome. It soared. It rocked and it rolled. He was going to make it. Finally he could be the rockstar he was born to be.

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